25 June, 2018

Have you ever wondered ......

(Image courtesy : bibi2be.com via Google)
Have you ever wondered about things around you?  How long has it been since you were in awe of things around you?  How long has it been since you stared at something very obvious with a gaze of respect, admiration, astonishment and reverence even?
This weekend, on two specific occasions and many separate instances, I was humbled by the sense of awe that I witnessed in these little people that we call children.  A child’s world, for the most part, is viewed through the eyes of wonder, curiosity, marvel and excitement. We don’t see children making judgments of why things are so, or why things are not so. 
I watched in amazement at a child in the supermarket the other day.  This little toddler perched on a trolley in the supermarket as his mum unloaded groceries to be billed was fascinated ! He was captivated - not by those colourful packs in the supermarket that are meant and devised to entice.  He was spellbound by the beeps that emanated from the counter as the cashier held the bar codes against the laser reader.  He was charmed by the movement on the computer screen – things were actually moving on the screen without anyone touching the screen and his eyes grew round and big with wonder and I’m not exaggerating when I say I could see wonder in those eyes.  He was mesmerized by a flickering light on the ceiling – something, we, as adults, don’t even look at.  He looked up and he looked down – he realized that he was seeing things differently when the light flickered on and when it flickered off, just for that instant.  He was riveted, he was gripped in the moment, was just living in the moment and absorbing the wonder of it all and was clearly entranced, awe-struck.  It was a beautiful thing to watch – the blooming of that sense of wonder without any strings attached.
I watched yet another little child yesterday and was fascinated by the sense of curiosity she exhibited.  A simple little stuffed toy – a duck – accompanied by an adult going ‘Quack Quack’ was sufficient to send her into a spate of giggles and joy untold.  She stared with absolute curiosity at the multiple buttons on a fan and I revered that sense of awe she exhibited when she pressed a button and the fan started to revolve.  I watched in wonder as she closed her little eyes for an instant, just letting the coolness of the breeze from the fan drive away that humidity and then there was that moment of epiphany that a two year old taught me.  She opened her little eyes, looked at me, unconditionally impressed by a simple fan and said, with a deep breath ‘Air !  So much air’.  That fan, that could make things cooler by going round and round, had indubitably brought about a sense of wonder in a little child who in that instant, revered that fan for having brought about coolness.  It was the sheer simplicity, the innocence, the purity and goodness in that look of hers – a mixture of wonder, curiosity, marvel and appreciation, all rolled into one – that made my eyes misty, made me wonder at this wonder that are little children and as an adult, made me wonder why and how we lose this sense of wonder in our journey towards adulthood.    
These moments have been captured in my mind’s eye for eternity.
Children are too busy being in awe of life and they simply view things for what they are.  They view the world through a glass of innocence, purity and curiosity unlike us adults, who complicate things by viewing the world through a kaleidoscope, painting pictures in colours that don’t exist, complicating things by assigning preconceived notions to situations, tainting situations with colours that, in reality, may not even exist.
Why and how do we lose our sense of wonder as we become adults?
Is it because of that sense of control over the future that kicks in slowly but steadily ?  I wonder.  Adult humans plan for the future, not knowing if indeed there is a future we are moving towards.  We make ourselves believe that planning for the future gives us a sense of control over our lives.  Possibly yes.  But this does not necessarily have to be at the cost of the present.  Growing up and growing old even, does not have to be at the cost of losing that sense of wonder, that miraculous sense of curiosity that we are naturally endowed with. 
I do wonder, sometimes, about things around me.  I have always wondered about how it must look from a little bee’s perspective, as it approaches a flower. Does it look like markings on a helipad, does it look like a bull’s eye on a target board ?  These are questions only the little bee can answer but it does not stop me from wondering.  This sense of wonder has led me to respect them anew – so little and yet so wise.
The other day, as we were out on our evening walk, it had just rained and we looked at trees along the path – these leaves like needlepoint and each leaf pregnant with a drop of water at the very edge of the leaf, hanging on precariously, dangerously.  I wondered then, if drops of water could actually think and if they could, what would they be thinking right then ?  Would they be too engrossed in trying not to fall or would they be busy waging a mental war, determined to fight gravity?  We will never know, but it does not have to stop us from wondering, does it ? 
I look at snails and to me, they are little embodiments of self-sufficiency.  They are the very quintessence of self-reliance, they epitomize autonomy and yet, we adults, who live amidst a bunch of concrete walls, actually have the gall to consider them inferior?  
I look at two pigeons who, multiple times in a day, perch on the kitchen sill.  They are familiar figures now, staring into the kitchen with their beady little eyes.  So familiar that they don’t particularly seem scared of people now.  They use our kitchen sill as a launching pad to the floor above.  It makes me wonder if they are building a nest somewhere above and in my mind, I do remember to send a little prayer their way as, the respect I feel for them is immeasurable.  They embody resilience and spirit as twig after twig, little piece of string after string, they are irresolute, they build their house season after season.  While we, who consider ourselves at the top of the food chain, live in houses that are built to last, and whine and moan about how something does not work or how something is broken.  Tell me, who is the stronger of the two ?  I have often wondered what animals and birds think of us humans.  I still continue to wonder.
Socrates said, “Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” To walk through life with a sense of wonder will probably enable us to open up to a higher knowledge that is beyond the physical mind. Imagine.  Wonder.  These are effective conduits to a higher plane of awareness, to reaching out to our inner self, which is actually meant to be our true self, the one that knows the truth of who we actually are.
When we start to see the wonder of each moment, of Mother Nature’s creations, by simply being in the moment and appreciating life and feeling good, we probably start to affiliate ourselves deeper with things around us.
The Universe has probably built it in to us, to acknowledge the sense of wonder, to be in awe of life, to stop and appreciate the present moment, to offer a smile, a kind word or deed to all living beings around us – birds, snails, butterflies, humans – not expecting anything in return but just for that sheer joy and the wonder around us.
If you do see me standing around talking to a snail or dreaming at the lazy circles made by butterflies or cootchie-cooing to the birds and the pigeons around, or having a tete-a-tete with flowers in the park, call me crazy if you like but I’d like to reclaim that sense of wonder.  I’d very much like to pause for a bit in this crazy busy world, take a few deep breaths and wonder at the sheer magnificence of life and Mother Nature, celebrate the miracle of being alive and wonder away. 
Like Walt Streitiff so truly said
‘There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child.  There are seven million’.

11 June, 2018

The 10 Second Rule

(Image downloaded via Google)

Parents do love their kids.  So do we but, as a parent, I do admit to the fact that there have been countless times (and there still are) when kids can be absolutely stubborn, as obstinate and intractable as mules and in the process, so completely overwhelming that they overpower our sense of reason and logic and completely annihilate our capacity to be reasonable about their stubbornness.  
To cut a long story short, there are innumerable times when kids can have parents walking up the wall and perching on the ceiling, with the said parents wanting to pull their own hair out right from the roots – one by one !
The 10 second rule
The one thing I realized along the way was that as much as I would try not to let them get to me, they eventually used to, very successfully.  When that did happen, the best solution invariably was to ‘take a minute to myself’, ‘count to ten’ and after the 10 second count, if I still felt like screaming at them, I could and I would.  
That was when I realized that that was all it took.  10 seconds to get out of that ‘bull that sees red all around’ frame of mind and a minute more to calm myself down, get myself together and gather my thoughts so that I wouldn’t get angry beyond measure and say or do something that I would regret once my head was clear. 
Invariably, in fact the answer is never, after that 10 second astoundingly thought clearing, calming break, have I had to scream at either Macadamia or Pecan through their younger years.  The same Macadamia is a young adult now and Pecan, a teen and they still do drive me crazy sometimes but the 10 second rule has proved golden and time tested.
Walk away – Clear your head
Sometimes, if the situation so demands, walking away from our kids just for a wee bit is ok.  This is especially true of really intense, tense, high pressure situations where it is our saneness, our rationality and lucidity that hangs in the balance.
I do admit - walking away isn’t an easy thing to do.  I remember a standoff with Pecan once which was particularly bad – over a scoop of ice cream, of all the things.  It escalated so quickly that I did not have time to gather my thoughts.  It left me livid, hyperventilating and fuming. Despite me being visibly upset and angry, he wouldn’t budge – wouldn’t give a millimeter, let alone an inch.
I just pictured myself in the eye of my mind and say myself how he was probably seeing me – hands on my hips, eyes flashing anger, absolutely livid, my ears and face flaming red, looking like Mt.Etna about to erupt.  That image scared me and in that instant of sudden epiphany and clarity (it does happen to me just sometimes), I realized if that image could scare me, how terrifying must it be for a young child ?
I did exactly what the title says – I put the ice cream scoop in the sink, the ice cream tub in the freezer and I walked away from him. I felt immensely guilty – make no mistake on that count.  But that menacing parent I’d seen a vision of, in the eye of my mind, was not the kind of parent I wanted to be.  I remember telling him that I was way too angry for my own good and his but that I did love him and that I needed a couple of minutes to calm myself down.  I told him I was going to be in the bedroom for a bit.
And I walked away.
He started wailing right about then but that little bit of physical distance was all it took for me to calm down and de-stress. That little distance enabled me to listen to my own inner voice for a bit.  It facilitated wiser counsel to prevail by preventing my senses being herded towards illogical, temperamental behaviour which I'd have regretted later.  It enabled me to process my thoughts even though my auditory senses were being assailed by the screeches and screams, without blowing a gasket myself.  
It gave me those precious few seconds in which I could think calmly and figure out my next step.  When I was calmer, I was able to go back and talk to him about how he got upset, how I got upset and how we could remedy the situation.
When kids lose it, or are stubborn – they look at us, as adults, to help them.  Just that they have very funny ways of telling us that they need help !!!
Kids can sense when we’re angry with them, so the more our frustration mounts, the more frenetic and hysterical they can get, the more out-of-control the situation starts to feel, for them too. 
If we take a minute to just stop ourselves and get our heads right, we are also giving them space to calm down enough so that we can try to come to some sort of compromise and understanding. There’s no point trying to reason with a small child (or adult for that matter) who is already worked up, all wound and uptight. They can’t see around their own frustrations. So then, what’s the point in trying to continue?
Walking away does make you feel horrible for a bit, as it could be construed as abandonment but in high pressure situations it is worth taking that one minute to yourself, to organise and channelise your own thought processes.
If I can’t learn to deal with my anger and find proper ways of channelizing the same, how do I expect my kids to learn to do that ?  If we end up having screaming and screeching matches over things, how are they to know that screaming and screeching aren’t always solutions to problems ?
Kids learn more by seeing how we behave, taking a page out of our books when we ourselves deal with high pressure situations. But taking that all important minute to gather your thoughts, if the situation so demands it, does not make you a bad mom or a bad parent.
If your kid is behaving like a pint-sized Energizer Bunny high on amphetamines, unreasonably bouncing off the walls like he/she is absolutely over-the-top crazy right then, as one parent to another, I do think you have every right to step away, calm yourself down, get your thoughts together, if necessary dunk your head in cold water and get your head in the game.
Sometimes, cruel as it may seem to just walk away, doing just that saves both, the parent and the child, a lot of trauma.  Taking a minute to yourself does not make you a bad parent.  It makes you a sensible one for acknowledging that need to mentally gather your thoughts and emotions rather than just plough on like a trooper despite knowing that you are very close, dangerously close to breaking point.
Raising the next generation, dealing with the ups and downs of parenting, just dealing with those little people in general, is really hard most of the time. We’re human too and there’s no shame in acknowledging that fact.  There’s only so much one can take before we ourselves lose it, especially when the wrong buttons keep getting pushed, time and again.  Sometimes those Energizer Bunnies not just push the wrong buttons, they have their fingers pressed down hard on those buttons constantly, like there's no tomorrow !
Again, as far as losing it goes, it is fine to completely lose it too, if the situation so demands but it is much better to lose it in private rather than in front of an already out-of-control kid.
Imagine the scene if you start screaming, jump up and down and punch  pillows, throw things around, tear paper to bits or whatever else it takes for you to vent - in front of the said kid.  They’d be sure then that we’ve indeed lost it and looking at it from a little person’s point of view, a five feet plus adult behaving that way must be incredibly scary from a two feet perspective.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, for it is a mantra I swear by.
Parenting has always been hard work, it still is and will continue to be so, for every single parent anywhere and everywhere in this world.  We sign up for it the moment we take that step towards bringing a new life into this world and with the laughs and the giggles, the squeals and the cuddles, there are also the tears and the pain, the heartbreaks and the strain.  That is reality and it isn’t about to go anywhere in a hurry.
So, dear fellow parents, keep up the good work at rearing and raising the next generation and remember – if the situation so demands it – it is ok to walk away for a bit and count to ten. Parenting is challenging, it is demanding, it is testing, it is grueling and it is way too complicated and emotional a task to expect magical fairies and unicorns to sprinkle fairy dust and work miracle cures in defusing situations.
As parents, we’ve got to do those ourselves.

04 January, 2018

Decoding TeenLect

(Image Courtesy : DailyMirror via Google)

Have you recently had a conversation with a teenager ?

Well, it is a rather unique experience, a very enlightening one, one that will make you throw all your copies of the Oxford / Webster’s Dictionary or anything remotely connected with what you'd thought was normal human language, right out of the nearest window.

Welcome to the world of the TeenLect - The Teenage Dialect. 

Go and grab a seat within earshot of a bunch of teens, get yourself a nice cup of chamomile tea (chamomile is said to have calming properties on the human mind and if you’re going to sit and listen to a bunch of teens speaking, trust me when I say, you’re going to need that chamomile) and make sure you’re sitting next to a hard, concrete wall (just in case you need to turn around and bang your head on it … it happens every once in a while and it would save you the trouble of getting up to find a wall).

I asked Macadamia and Pecan something today and got a reply so encrypted that it would put spies the world over, to shame.  Having spoken to parents of other teens too, we are all in agreement about one thing –  teen replies, monosyllabic or otherwise, have left us convinced that space agencies all over the world have successfully managed to not just find extra-terrestrial life in the cosmos but that they’ve also transported a few of those life forms onto this planet too.

Macadamia, through her teen years has continuously and consistently foxed me with her brand of dialect.  For her, such language / slang is a natural thing but it used to leave me rather sapped and faded. I speak in the Past Tense because I was under the impression I was immunized and quite anaesthetized.  I thought wrong ! Pecan stepped into teen years and has decided to up the ante to an extent that leaves me rather breathless just trying to keep up with his brand of the teen dialect.

I feel like a headless chicken when talking to either one of them and it does make me rather acutely aware of my slowing synaptic responses. Robs me of the ability to think straight or rather, if it is one of those long-drawn conversations, it simply robs me of the ability to think altogether. I’m basically too busy trying to keep pace with the slangs that form such an integral part of their speech these days. If both of them are talking to me (or better still, fighting over something) then I retreat to a safe corner with a cup of that chamomile tea I told you about, earlier.

I vividly remember this incident a few years back when I was checking my emails and suddenly, a little box popped up seemingly out of nowhere on my gmail screen. It was Macadamia saying “ Heyloo – whatcha doin ?” Errr…. were we not in the same house, under the same roof ?? Sitting in the same house, having a conversation on Google Chat was a rather surreal experience for me. “OMG” she goes. I waited- simply waited for the bomb to drop. “Holy Cranberries !!!!!” appeared on the screen next. “Cranberries ?” I wondered, in a stupor of sorts. “Does she really mean the cranberry cranberries or is this an abbreviation or slang for something else ?” asked a portion of my brain that still happened to be sane. “Holy Cranberries” she typed “something’s seriously flipped”. OK – now we were “talking” about someone. Looking back at what happened though, it was really funny – me sitting in the bedroom, Macadamia and Pecan in the living room and us communicating through (of all the things) Google Chat !! The fun was absolutely compounded (for me, of course), given the fact that Macadamia was throwing language at me that I could hardly make any sense of. Later on, I was given to understand that Holy Cow was really old fashioned, Holy Moly has been used a lot of times and hence is really boring. Thus was born the new terminology “Holy Cranberries !”

Looking at it from a parent’s point of view, I would say they do parents a lot of good. They increase a parent’s imaginative power, they add “as yet unheard of” vocabulary to a parent’s dictionary, they work on increasing a parent’s fitness by getting them to work their facial muscles as never before done and they make parents teach themselves methods in self-preservation of sanity. Kids, ten and above, can be so effectively prolific in their communicative abilities that it simply leaves parents speechless, many a times.

The teen world, especially, seems to go into these phases, at times (fortunately, not all the time) wherein they sincerely believe that the words “HUH ??!!” and “STUFF ??” are more than sufficient, in their inexhaustible linguistic repertoire, to carry on what they deem, is an active two way communication with a parent.

Those single words have capacities beyond one’s imagination. But hold on. It is not just that word HUH what works its magic. It goes hand in hand with what we have, by now, named “The Look”.

The Look is a rather potent, lethal blend of “glazed over” eyes with slightly drooping eyelids. It is accompanied by lips that are either pursed together or stretched at the ends, giving out an aura of tediousness (don’t get me wrong – I am SO not talking about a smile here) and The Look would be more or less complete with eyebrows that would be raised about as high as they can go. A wee bit higher and they would be fused to the hairline!! “The Look” makes you feel right on top of the world, because apparently that’s where self-made dummies are usually found.

Now, today I asked Pecan something over Whatsapp and immediately comes the reply ‘cbbs’. While I was still trying to figure that one out, I sent him another question.  Yeah, what can I say ?  I’m an absolute glutton for punishment.  He replies saying ‘idts’.

You get the drift, don't you ?

By the time Macadamia and Pecan are done speaking those sentences that sound progressively like some alien language, I’m usually found reeling someplace in the house, trying my best to look normal and retain my composure, attempting to figure out what had actually been said. By the time my brain actually comprehends what they’ve said and by the time I formulate an appropriate response in a more human language, the siblings would have moved on to something else altogether, leaving me gaping and gasping like a fish out of water.

Ok. Let’s try some on you, shall we ? :-D

On point / on fleek / OOTD / OOTN / Ship / Otp / NOtp / Slay / TBT / idts / iccl / Dingis / sksv …… and the list goes on !!
Let’s see how many of you, who were, in all probability laughing at the sorry figure I must have cut earlier, figure those out ??!!

Did I just hear you say you don’t know what those intellectually coordinated strings of letters mean?  Seriously ??!!”

Well then, you’ve just been introduced to the infamous ‘TeenLect’.
I should probably patent that term and run classes called ‘Decoding TeenLect’.
For those attending, I promise a free flow of chamomile tea.  On the house !

29 November, 2017

The Parenting Gig - A Mom's Musings

(Image courtesy : The Mother Diaries via Google)

We hear people saying this to us more often nowadays ‘Parenting should not be tough for you guys anymore.  The kids are all grown up so you guys can breathe easy.  It’s not difficult anymore’. 

Hmmm… those statements can't be further away from the truth.  I'm not talking just about us.  I guess I speak for every single parent out there. 

Parenting IS tough, no matter how grown up your kids may be.  

Hell, I still drive my mom nuts !

When couples or single parents decide to step into parenting, it is pretty much like taking a leap of faith, many times over, off a plane in the sky, with a parachute strapped on.  There are times when the said parachute opens and there will be times when the said parachute refuses to open, claiming defects of some sort of the other.  Either ways, once a parent, the onus to land on terra firma becomes a necessity because it is not just the parent that the parent needs to look out for, it is the child / children as well.

When Macadamia and Pecan were newborns, small babies, toddlers, little children, there have been so many such instances that we’ve been through.  Some days all was well, some days all was not well.  There were days when we felt we were doing fine at the parenting gig, there were days when we felt we were absolute supremos at this parenting gig and then there was many a time when we felt all we did was wrong, that we were falling short as parents all the time, that we were the biggest living blunders on this planet.

Once one embarks on this journey called parenting, at every given stage of your child’s life, the doubts that make their way into your mind are constant.  The questions are unrelenting, they are insistent and they are remorseless.  Irrespective of whether you’ve had a good night’s sleep or whether you haven’t been able to sleep a wink for days together, the questions and doubts continue their onslaught on a parent’s mind.

‘Should I have got my child into a playgroup to learn social skills ?’ to ‘Should my child have been potty trained by now ?’ to ‘Am I communicating enough with my teen ?’ to ‘Should my kids be pushing themselves as much as they are, right now ?’ to 'Am I being too easy on them ?' to ‘Are they getting enough sleep ?’, the questions simply continue to flow.  They never stop.  Children move from one phase of growth to another but the questions continue to surface and evolve.

When Macadamia and Pecan were little, I remember not having slept for nights together because both of them were horrible when it came to sleeping.  There have been times when Pecan used to wake up the minute I got to bed.  There have been numerous times when Macadamia has woken up multiple times in the night and screamed or cried – just like that.  Even at times like those, body totally exhausted, mind slipping out of control, one part of your mind wanting to throw in the towel, parents still tend to look at their kids and say ‘Yes love.  What’s the matter ?’

There have been times when both of them used to be sick at the same time and I remember couple of such instances in particular when I got puked on so many times during the night that we actually ran out of sheets and pillow covers.  I clearly remember being at the very end of my tether.  In the wee hours of the morning, both sick babies fell asleep and I vividly remember looking around at the house - which looked like a disaster zone - things strewn here, there, everywhere, piles of laundry to be done and there I was, in my crumpled pajamas, hair disheveled and wild eyed - but I remember I could not bring myself to move.  Yet, life went on.  W
e managed, as have numerous other parents the world over.

Yes, extreme exhaustion is a thing.  It exists.  At some point of time or the other on the parenting road, every single person does reach that point of no return in terms of being exhausted but we grit our teeth, pull up our socks and carry on.  Because we simply have to.  

Earlier in the year, I was rather acutely aware of the fact that there was every possibility that Macadamia would take off to some university in some other part of the world.  Darn !!  That brought to the fore those two words again – ‘letting go’ – the two words that are eternally scripted onto the book called ‘Things parents need to learn’.  Not easy.  Far from it.  But parents the world over do it - they learn to let go - not because they want to - but simply because they have to.

I stepped into parenthood 18 years ago.  Don’t you go about having any illusions of it having been as easy as stepping into a pair of well worn shoes.  It was more like wiggling my feet into shoes that were a couple of sizes small.  Heck !  I didn’t even know how to hold a newborn properly when Macadamia was born.  I was clumsy, it felt awkward and there were always those questions that I talked about earlier – unrelenting and incessant – making me feel all the more inadequate.  Eighteen years back is a long time but those memories are so vivid.  Macadamia was a colicky baby and there have been plenty of times when I felt hopelessly out of place, incompetent as a mom.

But I learnt, as does every new parent.  That’s pretty much what it is – parenting teaches you something new every single step of the way.  Right from realizing that you hurt more when your child hurts to understanding that letting go is never as easy or practical as it is made to sound.

Through all these years, parenthood has taught me many hard truths.  Every single one of those learning experiences has left its mark in its own inimitable way.  Parenting has its own way of turning feelings of helplessness into those of toughness and resilience, of turning weaknesses into cores of strengths. 

This one goes out to all the new parents out there and all the parents to be.  Parenting IS tough.  Through it all, you will probably realize just as I have (somewhere along the way) that parenting is not about making things perfect.  It is about realizing, accepting how much fun and how complete life is, with all those little imperfect bits.  It is about consciously appreciating the imperfections that make each individual what he or she is, valuing and welcoming the wholesomeness that the said imperfection brings with it.

Parenting is not about life being any easier because the kids have grown up.  It is about those complications that have a permanent place in one’s life, about how those complexities turn into little pieces of truth and wisdom and how those, in turn, embed themselves into your family, your psyche and serve to make your whole family one wholesome unit fused by togetherness.

Trust me, there will be times when you will feel like throwing in the towel, but you won’t.  You may cry, you may scream out of sheer exhaustion and frustration, you may weep out of fear and that feeling of incompetence, you may throw things, you may break things but – you will still trudge on, you will continue to carry on, you will grit your teeth and scale that mountain called parenting, you will continue caring for and nurturing the lives you were instrumental in bringing into this world.

Parenting, sometimes, is not just difficult, it is impossible. Yet, you will carry on.  That mantra then embeds itself in your heart and mind  -

'Impossible - Yes, it does feel that way sometimes.

Difficult - It has always been.  It still is. It always will be. 

Carry on and give it my best - Yes, I will.  We will.’

01 November, 2017

Two Birds, One Stone - 200 word Micro Fiction

(Image : wattpad.com via Google)

“No !” rang the journalist’s voice, laced with desperation, dripping with anguish. “I did not kill her. His lawyer looked at him and smiled - a confident smile that said “Don't worry - we'll win”

She’d been a very famous model.  They’d been seeing each other regularly. Two months back, she had been found dead in her apartment.  His fingerprints were all over and he was charged with her murder. 

The murderer had been visiting the courtroom regularly.  He had been smitten by her and had courted her.  Things had started warming between them and suddenly, out of the blue, came this journalist.  What started off as a professional interview turned personal. He discovered that they were having an affair

“In the light of the evidence presented, I request that my client be acquitted” boomed the defense counsel’s voice. 

“After taking into consideration all the evidence presented before the court, this court finds the defendant guilty of murder” intoned the judge.

“She spurned me and got what she deserved.  He stole her from me and got what he deserved.  Two birds with one stone” thought the murderer, as he gathered his black robes around him and rose from the judge’s chair.

12 July, 2017

Helicopter Parenting - Shielding kids from disappointment

(Image via Google)

The IB results were declared last week.  The Secondary School places allotments came through yesterday.  The HKDSE results are expected today.  Results always bring to the fore the ever-present fascination with numbers – the attribution of a number that classifies an individual as a success or a failure. 

Do these numbers serve a purpose other than to make kids more conscious of setting a certain bar for themselves, if they fall below which, they deem themselves to be failures ?  Why ? 

As parents, giving credence to numbers and achievements can be attributed to the fact that these are undeniably associated with their futures and careers.  But, the current education systems in most parts of the world have made parents re-align their attitudes towards priorities in raising kids.  Elements like self-identities and self-worth are increasingly being determined based on achievements and external recognition. 

Somewhere along the way, helicopter parenting has become a common thing where everything is timetabled, set by parents who also consider it necessary to shield kids from disappointment and pain of failure.

The Secondary School place allotments were declared yesterday.  One could see parents running helter-skelter, in sheer desperation, to other schools, if their child had not managed to get into a school of choice while the students in question themselves, meandered rather aimlessly, looking lost and doomed.  This brings me to my next point.

What kind of future generation are we raising ? 

It is only too frightfully common to see parents intervening in situations to the extent that the youth of today doesn’t have to, doesn’t know how to face problems head on and try solving them themselves.  If homework is forgotten, one of the parents or the help at home rushes to school with the said book.  On one of the forums that Macadamia uses, for researching on universities, she found quite a number of parents posing questions on behalf of their 18 year-old children, claiming that their children are not old enough / mature enough to pose questions by themselves.  Are we not setting the youth up for failure by over extending support to this extent ?  Are we not erasing those lines of accountability that are associated with / drawn by a youngster’s own actions, thus teaching them a life lesson in responsibility ? 

Parents nowadays don’t want their kids to come face to face with failure of any kind.  The other day, during the Parent Teacher meeting, I came across a few parents who did not want their kids to know how they had done at school because the kids would be disappointed.  While part of me understood the kids being disappointed, part of me was quite bewildered at this parental logic.  It left me wondering if it is that bad a thing for kids to experience disappointment.  Is it ? 

Pecan has experienced not being able to attain what he set out to achieve, on more than one occasion.  Last year, he was pipped to the post in the finals of a competition, giving the phrase ‘so near yet so far’ a new meaning.  Recently, he narrowly lost out on being the Head Prefect at school. 

Macadamia was stonewalled and lost out on an UK university because of being underage.  Now, despite the gruelling hours she put in, she is in a situation where her first choice of university hangs in balance because she fell short by 1 point in her IB results.  She does have her backup plan but is still having to battle it out for her first choice.

Disappointments, letdowns, discouragements – all these are part of life.  I personally think it is very important for children to learn that disappointment is an emotion that is normal, is experienced, and what is most important is not to dwell on it, but to learn from it and move on.  Kids need to learn that falling is a normal part of the life process but the more important thing is being able to get up, dust themselves off, and face the future, head on, again. 

Kids can and should be protected only so much, for, there will come a day when each one of them will have to meet the future head on.  After having protected them from failures all along, after having shielded them from hurt and disappointment all along, what will it be like for them, if they are suddenly expected to learn about facing disappointments after they are 18 ?

As parents, I think we would stand our kids in good stead if we focus on cultivating in them, qualities of hard work, perseverance, resilience, endurance, flexibility, toughness, strength, empathy, adaptability, responsiveness, and being responsible global citizens of tomorrow.  Society needs to start focusing on character and as parents, it is time we started teaching the next generation the true meaning of responsibility and accountability, respecting their interests and leanings, rather than use kids as mouthpieces or receptacles for our own unfulfilled dreams and ambitions.  

While we are at it, we need to let them experience the falls that are a natural process of growing up, for to learn to get up, dust themselves and get ready to face the future is way more important a life lesson than conveniently handing it to them on a platter.

30 June, 2017

Not in my name !

(Image courtesy : scroll.in via Google)

My heart bleeds for the state our country is in now, my heart bleeds !
A strong, sensible voice of reason is what it desperately needs
Minorities are being targeted, lynched with impunity
While, either in complicity or in fear, silently watches the majority communitiy.

Tagore once said ‘ Where the head is held high and the mind is without fear’
That was our country erstwhile, tolerant, inclusive and austere.
Where we hinged on beliefs like ahimsa and non-violence
Now one sees radicalism and bloodshed, sanctioned by religious vehemence.

This was a country where souls like Mahatma Gandhi preached
Now look to what depths it has sunk, the new lows that people have reached
Non-violence, ahimsa, tolerance, truth reigned, people fought for independence as one
Now the same country lies in tatters, of the above good qualities, in people who govern, there seemingly is none.

Corrupt, fanatic politicians now rule the roost
Sanctioning violence based on religion, giving facism a boost
Where, in celebrating festivals, people used to come together and rejoice
People of all castes and creed, hand in hand, gave joy and celebration a voice
What has gone wrong with the country that, to unity in diversity, showed the path
Now, in the name of religion, we see minority festivals turn into a bloodbath.

People are scared to talk, to air their views
From the fascist fanatics in power, most take their cues
For those political leaders who thump their broad chests and claim in vain
Think carefully before you claim ‘on my government, there are no stains’.

Organised religion has turned into a favourite tool
Steeping minds and hearts with hatred, forming vile cesspools
There is so much bloodshed in the name of religion and God
In the name of one who is said to protect and nurture, is that not odd ?

Caste and religion are such fertile breeding grounds today
With politicians whipping up a frenzy, ever ready to lead people astray
The heart aches and the eyes sting with tears
As to false promises, people are radicalized, the minorities live in abject fear

Women now have no place to voice themselves now
What has more protection and respect in the country, is a cow !
Women are still treated as objects to claim and plunder
But mobs lynching people in the name of cows, is this not insanity, I wonder !

Why are politicians sanctioning, spreading such hatred and loathing ?
In doing so, what future course are they charting ?
Lynching, mob killing in the name of personal conviction
Oh brethren !  Human attitudes are so brazen !

People in the country are fast being dragged into a mire
Radicalised fanatics killing people, setting their worlds afire
Humanity is being steadily imprisoned in cages of bigotry
To unjustified violence, killing, lynching, there now seems no boundary.

Protests abound, as people gather and voice their dissent, they care
Placards everywhere,  saying ‘not in my name’, their hearts in despair
Like them, I bear allegiance to the Constitution of my country
One that calls for harmony and secularism, not radicalised pomp and pageantry

My heart bleeds for the state our country is in now, my heart bleeds
A strong, sensible voice of reason is what it desperately needs.